Theresa Mowery says her husband laughed when she told him of her idea for a business, but he agreed to help if her venture took off.
Mowery says everyone else laughed when she printed up business cards with the word Buzzed and a telephone number on them.
Two years down the road, though, her curious venture has regular customers who rely on her to get them and their cars home when they’ve had too much to drink.
Now Buzzed, which has a page on Facebook under the name Buz Zed, is taking partyers home all hours of the day and night, and among the people who call Mowery are doctors and lawyers who might go to a party, have a couple of drinks and decide not to take a chance driving themselves home.
Mowery got the idea after her brother, who had lost his license, was critically injured in an crash while riding a moped while he was apparently drunk.
She’s a grandmother, Mowery said, and she’s often driving around with a car full of grandchildren. The last thing she wants is to get hit by a drunken driver, so she decided to do what she could to keep people off the road when they’ve been drinking.
For a $5 pickup fee and $2 a mile, Mowery will come to where you are and drive you and your car home. A second person follows in Mowery’s car so Mowery has a way to get home herself.
Sometimes, Mowery says, the people she’s driving will want to stop and get cigarettes. Sometimes they’ll be hungry and ask to stop at a fast-food drive-thru. No problem. Give people what they want. That way when they get home they’ll stay home rather than get back in their cars and venture out to buy cigarettes or a sandwich.
It’s not a bad gig as long as you don’t mind staying up late – real late. On Saturdays the phone at Buzzed starts ringing as early as 3 in the afternoon and the calls often keep coming in until past 3 a.m. Generally, though, calls start coming in about 8 p.m. and continue deep into the night.
It’s gotten to the point where some people actually schedule well in advance for someone from Buzzed to pick them up after parties, weddings, or New Year’s Eve bashes.
Sometimes Mowery and her drivers – it’s pretty much a family operation – get so backed up that they have to turn people down and advise them to call a taxi.
It takes stamina. I’m basically running all day and all night, Mowery said.
It finally got to the point where Mowery had to announce that she wouldn’t pick people up on Sundays. She needed a day off, but she did make one exception. She agreed to pick people up on Super Bowl Sunday.
Mowery has considered hiring drivers to ease the pressure on herself, But people don’t get the concept. So the work is shared among her, her husband, sons and in-laws. It can save lives, Mowery says.
And a few bucks to get your car home after a night of partying is a lot cheaper than getting busted for drunken driving.